I was contemplating a passion blog post about copyright and record companies and the nature of collaboration in today’s music market, but I ended up devising an internet based system for regulating collaborations between smaller artists, and then stumbled upon an opportunity for some serious progression on how we view society. Here I’ll explain a specific goal, and over on my rcl blog I’ll look at the topic more generally.
So, let’s say I want to work with some artist, I’ll make one up and call him Phil, and he reciprocates the notion. So we draft out a new track and he gets a friend to record female vocals, and it all sounds just fantastic. So we get it all mixed and mastered, and we want to release it. We agree to stream for free and sell on iTunes, splitting the funds 50/50.
Great! We’ll be rich! Except there are countless ways this falls apart – the girl might want a cut, either of us could easily start selling it through another avenue and recieve all the profit, either of us could leak the song and hurt its profitability, either of us could attempt to gain full rights to the song through legal action, or otherwise go against the nature of the verbal contract. If I got screwed in such a manner, I’d have the option of eating the losses and moving on, trying to fight it out publicly (which is rarely as good of an idea as it seems) or trying to take the offender to court. None of these are good options.
Here’s my proposal – create an online collaboration jurisdiction body that bypasses the courts. Documents wouldn’t have to be drafted by a lawyer, in fact that would be against the spirit of the site. Rather, two or more collaborators would put down in writing their plan, their payment plans, and possible punishments. Templates could be made available, as well as volunteer (or even paid) mediators. The collaborators would set up a joint funding system that could be monitored by all the members as well by an anonymous judge. If something went wrong, the judge would bear the responsibility of sorting out repercussions. This role could even be crowd sourced in order to drastically increase efficiency in reaching a decision.
What do you think? Decent idea for smaller artists wary of the current system?